ROME

Italian premier ousted after losing Senate vote

Premier Romano Prodi resigned yesterday after nine months in office following an embarrassing loss by his center-left government in the Senate on foreign policy, including Italy’s military mission in Afghanistan.

Prodi aides did not rule out the possibility that President Giorgio Napolitano would ask Prodi to try to form a new government.

“We are ready to reconfirm our full faith in the Prodi government,” said Dario Franceschini, a leader of the Olive Tree, the largest grouping in Prodi’s coalition.

Napolitano’s office said political consultations would begin today on which leaders might have enough support to form a new government. In the meantime, it said, the president, who met with Prodi yesterday night, has asked him to stay on in a caretaker role.

BAGHDAD

U.S. helicopter shot down by insurgents near Baghdad

A U.S. helicopter was shot down and crashed north of Baghdad yesterday, the military said after initially stating that the chopper made a “hard landing.” All aboard were safely evacuated by a second helicopter.

At least seven U.S. helicopters have crashed or been forced down under hostile fire since Jan. 20. Military officials have said that militants are increasingly targeting helicopters amid the buildup of U.S. troops in Baghdad, firing simultaneously with an assortment of weapons from different directions.

The military has also detected another deadly insurgent tactic in recent weeks – the spreading of toxic chlorine gas by combining it with explosives.

WASHINGTON

University for the deaf could lose accreditation

The nation’s only liberal arts university for the deaf could lose its accreditation unless it addresses concerns about weak academic standards, ineffective governance and a lack of tolerance for diverse views, an education oversight group warned.

Gallaudet University was rocked by student demonstrations last fall that shut down the university for several days and forced the board to revoke the appointment of a new president.

Afterward, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education said it was delaying a decision on whether to renew the school’s accreditation because of concerns raised during the protests and because of a 2005 federal report that rated Gallaudet “ineffective.” The federal Office of Management of Budget this month gave Gallaudet an improved evaluation, to “adequate.”

LONDON

Blair says Britain will pull 1,600 troops out of Iraq

Britain will withdraw around 1,600 troops from Iraq in the coming months and aims to further cut its 7,100-strong contingent by late summer if Iraqi forces can secure the country’s south, Prime Minister Tony Blair said yesterday.

The announcement, on the same day Denmark said it would withdraw its 460 troops and Lithuania said it was considering pulling out its small contingent, comes as the U.S. is implementing an increase of 21,000 more troops for Iraq – putting Washington on an opposite track as its main coalition allies.

Blair told the House of Commons that British troops will stay in Iraq until at least 2008 and work to secure the Iran-Iraq border and maintain supply routes to coalition troops. He told lawmakers that “increasingly our role will be support and training, and our numbers will be able to reduce accordingly.”

– Compiled from
Daily wire reports

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